This interview, with Cajunpen, is from the October 2011 issue of our eMag
1. How did you first get started working with wood?
I can remember being about 8 or 9 years old and building my first scooter. All of the older guys will remember the old scooters – taking an old pair of the iron roller skates that used to “clip” to your shoes. Put two wheels in front and two in back. A piece of wood for the bottom, joined by a 90 deg. board for the riser and handles attached. Man what fun! I’ve been fascinated and involved with woodworking since that time.
2. What was it about woodworking that initially caught your interest, enticing you to get into it at the level you are now?
The feeling that I got from taking a plain piece of wood and making it into something of beauty OR usefulness struck a chord in me that has resounded all these years. For example my first project, using real tools, like a table saw, bandsaw, etc. was at about 10 years old. I had access to a woodworking shop. With help I built a toolbox for my Dad. That really confirmed for me that this was something that I would always love doing.
Fast forward 54 years and I’m still in love with woodworking. I’ve actually gotten a little better at it, but am still in awe of some of the work displayed on the LJ site.
3. Tell us a bit of history of your journey from that beginning to where you are today
I did a little woodworking on and off my whole life. In the early 70’s I built my first little shop. I had very meager tools to start with, mostly hand tools like a circular saw (still have it), electric drill and a few hand tools. I started doing small projects and found that the smaller projects were more fulfilling for me.
I began accumulating tools in the late 90’s and have amassed quite a collection of woodworking tools, including a couple of “techie” type tools, like the Ringmaster and Carvewright. I have worked in my shop intermittently for the past 25 years, actually going as long as 8 months between trips to the shop. Since I retired in 2010 I have been into the shop at least once a day, most days I’m in there 4-5 hours (I think my wife enjoys my time in the shop).
4. What inspires you regarding wood creations?
The fine Craftsmen and women on the LumberJocks site is my biggest inspiration. I have learned so much just watching the work of some of the Master Craftsmen that we have here.
I love everything about woodworking – just the smell of wood in my shop in the morning is inspiring. The ability to take a piece of a tree and milling it into a piece of lumber, and then taking that piece of lumber and turning that into something that is not only useful, but if done with patience and care, can be an object of beauty, just amazes me. Taking a concept into the shop and walking out with a beautiful jewelry box, or clock is just the most relaxing thing that I can think of doing. I wish everyone had the woodworking bug.
5. What are the greatest challenges that you have met along the way? (and how did you overcome them)
My greatest challenge has always been a lack of space. I have a 10×22’ shop, but I really should have built a 14×22’ (but that’s a whole new story that involves a Fig tree!) I have overcome, for the most part, my space limitations by making most of the tools mobile. I roll everything to an open space in the shop and work from there. The only exception is the Tablesaw and Bandsaw.
6. What is the greatest reward that you have received from woodworking?
My greatest joy is taking a piece that I have crafted in my shop and handing it to someone, as a gift, and watching the expression on their face. If I’ve done my job in the shop correctly – you will see a great smile and that makes it all worthwhile for me. I have not tried to sell any of my pieces yet and as long as I can afford to keep buying the wood and giving it away (to my family mostly) I will be happy to do just that.
7. What is your favorite tool that you use for woodworking?
I’m not sure that I have a “favorite”, but if I do, it will be the Lathe. The lathe is the only tool in my shop that provides immediate satisfaction, at least for me. I only wish that I had the abilities of some of my LJ brothers and sisters.
8. What is your favorite creation in/for your woodworking?
I have not thought much about which is my favorite project, but if I had to pick one it would be the Pen Case Storage box that I made this year. It is one of the few projects that I have made that was “for me”.
9. What tips would you give to someone just starting out or currently struggling with woodworking?
Someone just starting out would be wise to join the LumberJocks Community. There is a world of experience available for the asking. I have yet to find a LJ person that is not willing to offer help when asked. The next thing that I would suggest is that they learn woodworking safety and practice it like a religion. Buy the best tools that you can afford and read, read, read, read. There are a wealth of Woodworking videos available that were not available in the beginning for me – Newbies should take advantage of the free resources.
10. How did you find LumberJocks and what is it that keeps you coming back?
It’s been awhile since I found the LJ site and I don’t recall for sure how I found it – but the Community and people are what keeps me coming back. It’s strange, but I’ve got Friends (at least I consider them friends) here that I’ve never met or spoke to. Lumberjocks is just a endless source of woodworking knowledge – there for the asking.
Thanks to Cajunpen for taking the time to do this interview.
-- ~ Debbie, Canada (http://www.execulink.com/~yohan)